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Antarctic Circumpolar Current impacts on internal wave life cycles
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  • Stephanie Waterman,
  • Amelie Meyer,
  • Kurt Polzin,
  • Alberto C. Naveira Garabato,
  • Katy Louise Sheen
Stephanie Waterman
University of British Columbia

Corresponding Author:swaterman@eoas.ubc.ca

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Amelie Meyer
University of Tasmania
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Kurt Polzin
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
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Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
University of Southampton
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Katy Louise Sheen
University of Exeter
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Major gaps exist in our understanding of the pathways between internal wave generation and breaking in the Southern Ocean, with important implications for the distribution of internal wave-driven mixing, its sensitivity to change, and the necessary ingredients of mixing parameterizations. Here we assess the dominant processes in internal wave evolution by characterizing wave and mesoscale flow scales based on full-depth measurements in a Southern Ocean mixing hot spot and a ray tracing calculation. The exercise highlights the importance of Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) jets as a dominant influence on internal wave life cycles through advection, the modification of wave characteristics via wave-mean flow interactions, and the set-up of critical layers for both upward- and downward-propagating waves. Our findings suggest that it is important to represent mesoscale flow impacts in parameterizations of internal wave-driven mixing in the Southern Ocean.